Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Policy

Application Deadline: January 10 - $90 Application Fee

Priority Deadline: December 1 - $45 Application Fee

Apply online via Slideroom

If you are also interested in applying to the Modern & Contemporary Art History program, please ONLY submit a single application to the Dual Degree: Modern & Contemporary Art History AND Arts Administration and Policy.

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry.

Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline. When you click the "submit" button on the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information to pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information.

Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC. Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes. Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

Students admitted to a graduate program who have not received a high school diploma, GED or equivalent are not eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds. 

Write a 500 to 700 word statement of purpose that describes the history of your interests and experiences in Arts Administration, your personal and professional motivations and goals, and your reasons for pursuing graduate study at SAIC, and thoughts on potential future directions.

A statement of intent is required for all graduate programs though the content varies by department. You will upload your statement of purpose to the Attachments section of your E-Portfolio.

3 Letters of Reference are required.

You are responsible for securing letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at

A current résumé is required.

A resume is required for all graduate programs. Upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your E-Portfolio.

Submit a sample of your critical writing, up to 2,000 words in length. This can be either an essay assignment from a previous course of study, an excerpt from a longer research paper, or a recently published article. Text documents must be in .pdf format (up to 10MB each).

Applicants are required to submit an E-Portfolio, though the content varies by department. Please visit your individual program of interest to find details. You must submit a separate E-Portfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an E-Portfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submission specifications:

  • Images: .jpg, .gif, .pdf (up to 5 MB each)
  • Videos: .flv, .wv, .mov (up to 60 MB each)
  • Audio: .mp3 (up to 10 MB each)
  • Text documents: MUST be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each)

TOEFL: 100 



International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline.

SAIC accepts official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and Duolingo. The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

The  department conducts interviews by invitation only. Applicants who pass the preliminary review will be invited to schedule an interview the weekend of February 20, 2021. Notification will be sent by late January.




The Art of Arts Administration

The arts have always been at the vanguard of negotiating the most challenging cultural questions of the day. Exhibitions, performances, concerts, festivals, public art, social-practice projects, and countless other cultural experiences—both within and outside the walls of formal arts institutions—have informed and engaged populations; sparked transformational conversations; and catalyzed untold historic change. 

Not mere conduits through which art must pass between artist and audience, Arts Administrators are charged and entrusted with shaping, maintaining, re-envisioning, and even revolutionizing the very platforms and organizational mechanisms through which arts-inspired conversation and change can occur. As such, they must be responsive, dialogic problem-solvers and re-imaginers whose work with art and artists is, by nature, mutually creative.

The true art of Arts Administration is an intelligent elasticity: an ability to respond to art, artist, and intention; to adjust platforms for expression as needs outgrow and circumvent them; and to remain always nimble, ethical, conversational, and visionary enough to navigate the frontiers where status quo meets change. 

You + SAIC: The Future of Civic Imagination

Who you are:

  • You’re curious, open-minded, socially engaged, and action-oriented.
  • You’d like the world to be a better place, and you’re passionate about playing a part in getting it there.
  • You recognize that diversity is only one part of achieving cultural equity, and you’re committed to digging deeply into discourse and action towards achieving cultural justice. 
  • You enjoy the fluid, changeable nature of the terms “art,” “artist,” and “practice.” You know there is more than one answer to many of art’s questions. 
  • You’re interested in working with people from all over the world to collaboratively imagine and develop the future of arts administration.
  • You have exciting visions for all that you might do, and a mature understanding of the systems and strategies that may need to be navigated to achieve them.
  • You’ve already begun. You’ve tried things; experimented on your own; engaged with people, places, projects, and ideas. You’re ready for more.


Who we are:

  • We believe in our students. We are committed to developing and supporting their visionary leadership so they will be prepared to reimagine arts and cultural organizations and create the future of the field.
  • We explore, experiment, and connect—not in a static, theoretical learning space but in a real-time, real-world urban studio lab environment, using studio practice and methodology.
  • We work collaboratively—not only because it’s an essential practice, but because it’s also the best way to a better future.
  • We surround ourselves with artists and the arts. We learn from them, we learn for them, and we learn with them.
  • We engage daily with the vast and diverse resources of the Chicago cultural scene: our largest and most dynamic learning space.
  • We hold firm that Arts Administration is a creative practice of its own, and we equip and empower our students to shape and sustain their own artistic and professional practices.



What students say:

  • "I love the way that SAIC sees exploration as a priority (...). It’s only by exploring and seeking things out that you make meaningful connections to the world around you."
  • "It's not a program where you can sit in the classroom and they feed you everything.
  • "I feel more equipped to be a leader."
  • "Experimentation was really emphasized, and looking at Arts Administration as an artistic practice in itself."
  • "My interest in attending an art school rather than another sort of academic institution was my interest in working directly with the artists. I was less interested in 'academia' and more interested in real-life experiences."
  • "It’s not an MBA program that happens to be arts-related. It’s really taking a look at Arts Administration both alongside and integrated with contemporary art practice and theory."
  • "SAIC is known for recruiting and bringing in—and producing—some of the best artists in the country. So, being part of that dynamic incubator was to my advantage in entering the art world."
  • "Being in a studio and knowing what it was to be an artist was the best possible way to be able to represent artists when working inside of institutions, nonprofits, or museums."
  • "I’m interested in a type of scholarly investigation which I think is really rigorous, but it doesn’t fit the mold of a certain kind of traditional scholarly work. The School of the Art Institute was really the only program that fit the needs that I had—that I have—and is actually unlike any Arts Administration program in the country."
  • "There’s such a breadth of culture here in Chicago, and so many arts organizations..."
  • "The depth of conversations that you get to have across such a wide range of scenarios within the field is amazing, and not something you can find anywhere else."


Our Students:

  • Have hailed (to date) from North America, South America, Central America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
  • Arrive with backgrounds in visual arts; dance; music; theater; cultural studies; art history; social sciences; law; philosophy; political science; education; social services; hospitality; urban studies; youth activism; social justice; social entrepreneurship; and more.
  • Often work full-time jobs during their studies. They can be found at arts and cultural institutions throughout Chicago, and in leadership positions across the school, including the Office of Civic Engagement; the Sullivan Galleries; and Special Collections. To facilitate students' learning alongside work lives and cultural engagement, we schedule as many required classes and activities as possible in the evening.
  • Have created projects to explore everything from Working at the Line: Three Studies of Arts Administration at the U.S.-Mexico Border and A Love Letter to Community: A Manifesto in Five Suggestions to Racing Culture: Exploring Race, Inclusion and Equity in Arts Institutions, A Parallel World: Hip Hop Dance in China, and Rethinking Radio: Storytelling as Civic Activism, leaving a wealth of trailblazing theses behind them in the MAAAP Thesis Archive.
  • Have graduated to become Directors, Curators, Leaders, and Managers of Education, Programs, Planning, Events, Community Interaction, Public Engagement, Development and Major Gifts, Marketing and Communications, Preservation, Operations, Cultural and Social Entrepreneurship, Legislation, and more—in addition to curating, directing, and managing the collections of renowned galleries, art centers, and museums quite literally around the globe.
  • Can be found in professional positions everywhere from Country Music Television to the J Paul Getty Museum; from the Brain Research Foundation to the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy; not to mention Christie’s, Artforum Magazine, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival, Public Design Commission of the City of New York, Peabody Essex Museum, Northwestern University, Reykjavik Art Museum, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Shenzen Biennial, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Smithsonian Institution, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, The Field Museum, Young Chicago Authors, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, The Obama Foundation, Venice Architecture Biennale, and countless others.

We bring leaders in culture and civic engagement into our classrooms to share their experiences and insights.

Recent guest speakers include:

  • Roberto Bedoya (Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland)
  • Madeleine Grynsztejn (Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago)
  • Peter Hyer (Director of the Media & Technology Portfolio, IDEO San Francisco)
  • Carolina Jayaram (Former CEO, United States Artists; Current CEO, YoungArts)
  • Ra Joy (Former Executive Director Arts Alliance Illinois. Current Executive Director, CHANGE Illinois)
  • Jamie Kalven (Writer; Human Rights Activist; Director of the Invisible Institute)
  • Tony Karmen (President and Director, EXPO Chicago)
  • Faheem Majeed (Artist and Co-Director/Founder, Floating Museum)
  • Ian David Moss (Founder, CreatEquity; CEO, Knowledge Empower Consultants)
  • Caroline Older (Executive Director, Chicago Artists Coalition)
  • Andreas Östberg (Founder, School of Rock, Mexico)
  • Angelique Williams Power (Former Program Director, Culture, The Joyce Foundation; Current President, Field Foundation Illinois)
  • Mike Reed (Musician; Composer; Founding Director, Pitchfork Music Festival; Programming Chair, Chicago Jazz Festival; Owner and Director, Constellation)
  • Sarah Ross, Artist (Chicago Justice Torture Memorials; Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project)
  • Laura Samson (Enterprise Strategy Lead, Boeing Global Engagement)
  • Jacqueline Terrassa (Woman’s Board Endowed Chair of Museum Education, Art Institute of Chicago)
  • Yesomi Umolu (Exhibitions Curator, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts)
  • Roberta Uno (Director, Arts in a Changing America)


Thesis Abstracts

Each year, the School of the Art Institute of  Chicago celebrates the culmination and closure of students' studies at the masters level. In studio areas, the celebration takes place in the form of the thesis exhibitions. The academic areas complement this with the publication of students' theses.

The SAIC Thesis Repository contains theses for the MA in Arts Administration and Policy and the Dual Degree submitted since November 2013.

Theses submitted prior to November 2013 are listed in the Flaxman Library catalog.

MAAAP Thesis Archive: Special Collection

We have created the MAAAP Thesis Archive, a collection of theses organized by topic, to give you a better idea of the breadth of work accomplished in the MA in Arts Administration and Policy.

MA Arts Administration and Policy Brochure Cover

View Grad Brochure

Interested in learning more about how you can apply?

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 312.629.6100, 800.232.7242 or